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TheStreet Open House

Herbalife's Shorts -- Hey Bill Ackman! -- May Be Twisting in the Wind Soon

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Argus's downgrade of Herbalife's (HLF) is not as bad as you'd think.

Argus, an independent analyst, lowered Herbalife's rating to a hold from a buy following the recently announced Federal Trade Commission investigation into the health supplement, multi-level marketing company.

Argus's retreat from its bull thesis on Herbalife is based, in part, on a negative shift in market sentiment. Argus has a point: The company's headline peril is far from imaginary, but maybe Argus' timing is more "a dollar short and a day late" than clairvoyance. Even Argus states its expected earnings multiple is in single digits.

Also, Herbalife investors don't need the shares to appreciate in order to profit. Friday, before the open, in Real Money Pro, I shared a trading idea and will discuss here how you can profit also.

But first let's examine the landscape.

By now, the market has fully discounted the FTC investigation and the shares have fallen from January highs above $80 to about $50. If you're a shareholder, I'm sorry to remind you that the retracement should not have come as a surprise. Four months ago, near the top of the move I reminded shareholders they "won" in Herbalife Investors Win Battle and should consider taking some profits. Shareholders were reminded to never let a winner turn into a loser.

If hedge fund Pershing Square, managed by Bill Ackman, isn't an example of not becoming greedy when he had the chance to cover his billion-dollar short under $30 only to watch the shares appreciate above $80, I don't know what is.

It's becoming increasingly clear Herbalife isn't going to implode on its own, even with mountains of negative exposure. And why should it? Ackman's presentation is far from convincing. If I can't be convinced, good luck convincing unbiased government regulators.

My bias against Herbalife, Nu Skin Enterprises (NUS), Avon (AVP) and especially Amway stems from the countless number of times I've been approached with an "investment opportunity."

That said, joining one of the above or the many others isn't substantially different from becoming a real estate or insurance salesperson. Real estate and insurance people are normally considered independent contractors who start out losing money and have a small chance of becoming successful.

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